Renault’s sunny yellow logo took on a new meaning last week when the company began flipping the switch on six gigantic new photovoltaic installations, each located at the site of a Renault production facility in France.
Aside from juicing the company’s already formidable green cred, the solar projects illustrate how the unique two-for-one nature of integrated solar power can provide businesses with bottom-line value over and above any savings related to owning the means of clean, renewable energy production.
Renault Prepares for Hail, Can Locusts be Far Behind?
Basically, the six installations double as protective carports for the company’s merchandise. According to Renault’s press materials:
“The initiative is also an innovative way of protecting new vehicles before delivery to the sales network because it limits storm damage. The panels are designed to resist impact and hail in particular.”
As far as threats to vehicles go, hail isn’t necessarily the first thing you think of when thinking of France, but as a matter of fact a severe hailstorm did hit the nation just last spring and destroyed 6,000 acres of vineyards.
Toulouse has also been rocked by hail in recent years, including one 2009 hailstorm which reportedly involved chunks of ice large enough to pierce the body of a car.
Aside from serving as a protective covering for new vehicle shipping and delivery lots, some of the panels were also installed at employee parking lots, which is a nice perk.
Green Cred for a Green Car Company
Even without the solar panels, Renault is poised to become an electric vehicle powerhouse. Aside from manufacturing electric vehicles, that includes taking up the slack for establishing a serious network of public EV charging stations in France.
Renault has also begun to push electric vehicles into high-profile markets beyond the consumer arena — for example, by outfitting an all-electric Twizy as a prototype emergency support vehicle and donating it to a Paris firefighter brigade.
That’s all well and good, but with the new solar panels Renault can truly put its money where its mouth is. The company estimates that the solar panels will offset about 200 tonnes (that’s metric tons, btw) of carbon dioxide emissions related to the manufacture of electric engines in France.
Renault’s Solar Trip Goes Global
That’s just the tip of the solar iceberg for Renault. The new installations are located at Douai, Maubeuge, Flins, Batilly, Sandouville, and Cléon, and the company already plans to add Valladolid and Palencia to the list, along with its Busan site in South Korea.
Renault is also taking a look at its sites in Slovenia, Morocco, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Romania for possible solar installations.
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Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.